Meet Anonymous Publications!
The guest on my blog really needs no introduction. You either love or hate Anonymous. They're the "Robin Hood" of the internet - taking on the powers-that-be in order to free information. This collective of internet badasses have turned another page in their book of LULZ - They started a publishing house. Anonymous Publications is up and running and they have released their very first book. I had the amazing opportunity to ask Anonymous Publications some questions about their new release - The Parade with the Drums. I'll let Anon tell you all about the book plus a bit about themselves and their goals. Leave Anon a note in the comments!
1.) Tell the readers a little about Anonymous.
Anonymous is a distributed and diverse network of passionate individuals, working towards a common set of goals. We tend to promote freedom of speech, and we often come to the aid of the powerless. We hack, we investigate, we expose, we infiltrate, we organize, we laugh, we make jokes, we learn and we teach. To me when someone says they're "Anonymous", it doensn't necessarily tell me anything about who they are or what they stand for. To know that, I would have to review their actions or what specific causes they believe in. In general, Anonymous functions in decentralized cells or on an individual basis. Even Anonymous Publications itself is the product of decentralized members either helping distribute books or performing some other task for our common cause. I haven't spoken directly to everyone involved. I don't even know everyone involved. It's just people who sort of identify as "revolutionaries" who are willing to work together to get stuff done. This decentralized nature has it's drawbacks. In that we lack a central authority, we have no way of 'disowning' individuals who claim to be Anonymous yet primarily do nothing but make false claims and embarrass the rest of us. I guess in a nut shell, being a member of "Anonymous" is much like being a member of the NYPD. You just have a badge or what ever, you've nodded to the people around you to signal that you're one of them, but you're free to do what ever, it's absolute anarchy really. People do things as "Anonymous" that really suck. I'm sure there are people in the police force who can empathize. Not all anons hack, but if Anonymous is renowned for any one thing, it's our hacking. Hacking is a powerful tool, it doesn't require a bunch of social connections, you just need to have a little technical skill and know what targets to scrutinize. It doesn't cost money to become a hacker, it costs time. But not all anons hack. In some cases we're just conducting meaningful investigations, following clues, and recruiting the help of others to expose an important issue. But the media tends to describe us as hackers and not much else. There's something alluring about hacking, that the media can't resist. Maybe it's in fact due to the polarized nature of the subject. To me hacking is an extremely positive thing. But to someone inversely polarized, hacking is something ugly, sad and gross (note the hacker in that awful, Fascist, gore-thriller movie "Dread"). Hacking is a good thing.. or a bad thing.. depending on who you are; in what manor your culture and the media has polarized you. Perhaps I have a controversial opinion that the media revolves around balancing the population's polarity, keeping people separated by their beliefs and opinions while yet hanging on to maximal viewership levels. Then the media's attention towards Anonymous' hacking activities follows suite with their ostensible trend to emotionally polarize, yet optimally maintain, their subscriber base. We don't all hack, but if there's anyone out there who believes Anonymous is nothing but a group of hackers, then they should at least know that we're a group of *ideologically motivated* hackers. Back in the hay days of lulzsec, it was, and still is this running gag that "we do it for the lulz" meaning we disrupt computer systems simply because we find it hilarious (though when done right, it truly, truly is). When we say that though, we *tend* to be just trolling our enemies, those oppressing others who have no way to fight back. I want to point out that Anonymous Publications does NOT hack, we don't even troll. We happen to have done a good job retaining the anonymity of the artistic team and some of the idea makers for the organization, but when we utilize technology, it's to build things or to check that others cannot tamper with or destroy our digital presence. If there's an FBI researcher out there being directed to investigate our 1st amendment activities, he or she should know that they're in blatant violation of their nation's laws.
2.) Can you tell us a little about the book?
The book titled "The Parade with the Drums" is a children's book that attempts to open the door to discussions for conscientious parents who would like their children to know that they're being raised in a society, with a government, with rules and laws that they, as citizens, have a responsibility to participate in.
3.) Tell us a bit about the artist who did the beautiful pictures in the book and the medium used.
Wenzel was a wonderful artist to work with. I noticed his work had both a 'revolutionary theme' to it, and was also quite visually appealing. When I approached him, he was immediately on board with the project and working with Anonymous.
His methods for this production were to sketch the basics out on paper, scan it into a computer, and then begin painting over the elements using a digital stylus. After that phase was completed we did a thorough visual review, more review than most publication companies conduct and made changes until the artwork was in exceptional form. Wenzel worked from some notes I had made about the scene I imagined, and what he drew was always far better than what I saw in my mind. As we worked together, the visual art inspired changes to the dialogue; each of our forms of art influenced the output of the other. I can only describe the amount of time we spent on the work as "outlandishly unprofitable." My hope is that both of us can be further compensated and go on to produce more works.
4.) Why a children's book?
As a young publication company, you have pretty much no recognition in the world and no hope of getting an influential book distributor to carry your books. If our first book were a 500 page novel, we'd have to do a lot of work convincing say a book store clerk to read it or suggest it to their boss to read. With the children's book, we've eliminated that pain. Our book can be read in a single span of a 10 minute talk, it's very telling of what our publishing house is about, and is complete with attention getting color pictures. There are a lot of good children's books out there. I recommend Dr. Sues' work, but there's a detachment to that work... It's a good detachment, but it's overpowering. I wrote The Parade with the Drums to be useful for specifically explaining to children that they have rights and a community of neighbors to protect through non-violent demonstration. That was the most compelling personal reason for which I wrote the story.
5.) What central theme would a child take away from readng this book? An adult?
That depends on what age of a child you're reading to. Young audiences are just very curious about why it's happening. If you have a child in the "why?" phase, don't read the book until you're ready to explain the 1st amendment, how lucky we are to have a country that wasn't completely corrupt from it's inception, how other kids aren't allowed to wave that sign, and how even in our own country, sometimes the people in charge forget about some of our most important laws. There's nothing directly in the actual narrative "that's too deep" for a particular age. The word 'law' is used, and that's a tough one to explain, but it can and should be done.
For parents, they get "opportunities" to point to some of the background elements in the book and explain, for instance, a young girl holding a sign that says "We Have a Right to Assemble in Public." An adult might read through and put together a lot more than just our fundamental human rights. They'll see financial corruption issues, media corruption
issues, government failure concerns, and this is all depicted entirely through the visuals brilliantly rendered by Wenzel along side the actual story. They might have a greater appreciation for what it means to demonstrate peacefully.
6.) Writing a children's book could be considered "indocturinating" children into the movement. What is your response to that?
Before I tackle this question, I just want to say, it's the duty of all parents to pass on their moral beliefs to their children. They shouldn't be learning what they can and can't do to people (or what other's can do to them) completely on there own, still figuring it out as they're turning 20, that's horrible parenting. I've seen kind parents in the hippy crowd let their kids act however they want, just sitting back and letting their children develop on their own... cartoons come into play.. and suddenly their cute little angles are complete monsters, the exact opposite personalities of their parents. To fail to instil a healthy set of moral principles into one's child is to fail as a parent.
Anonymous Publications has come into existence with the specific goal of protecting the minds of humanity from self destructive 1984 "proll" style social patterns. Human Beings have a universal right to be aware of what's happening around them and to assemble and represent themselves peacefully in public. Human beings have a right to self govern. Thus
our first title is an attempt to make this universal right clear to even very young audiences. To some, this may be political indoctrination, but in the end, doesn't everything, even the fact that we bring our kids to public libraries an act of political indoctrination? The line between indoctrination and parenting is a blurry one indeed.
I'm reeling here at this question, ha, as that I recognize how important it is to address as thoroughly as possible. I included peace signs in this book... I was hesitant in doing this... This to me was on the line of 'political indoctrination' there are lots of good reason to go to war. I think the citizens of Mexico should certainly go to war with their government and drug cartels, that's a clear case of a justifiable war cause. So what does the peace sign say to I suffering child in Mexico? What meaning could that convey? I wound up including the peace sign because both political parties in the 2 party system favor peace at different times in the US, and thus didn't think it would polarize anyparents in this country. It was crucial to me that all Americans would be able to read this book, see how it can be useful for them as a tool for teaching their young, and do so. I included a blurry sign, it's hard to make out. I don't entirely want to draw attention to it...it's a symbol of a universal manor in which "the masses" are treated economically. The book is inspired by this notion, and I felt it would be unethical of me to hijack the story, and the inspiration for the book without putting forward at least one honest through-back, and there it is, I'll let readers scour the pages for it themselves. I would have no objections if a parent were to cover this sign. In fact, as that it is a political symbol and has been used to polarize the domestic population, I would commend any parent who were strong enough to see this symbol and cover it with their own symbol. One should not fear throwing down their political signage for a chance at genuine peace.
7.) What made Anon step from the "cyber shadows" and into the publication world?
Lot's of things really, CNN... You'll see a mainstream media news crew pictured in the book, they weren't telling the story honestly as it was happening... If we can tell the story right a couple years later I think that's important. And if we can tell the story to young persons, we can sort of give them a heads up as to what they'll be faced with growing up; I'd say it's critical that take place.
8.) How can we get a copy?
This is an interesting question. We're currently in the process of boycotting PayPal, and boycotting a popular online retail store that boasts of enormous profits and low-low prices. We're doing this because of the political stance they took against WikiLeaks and the PayPal 14. I could go into great detail as to how PayPal blocked donations to WikiLeaks after they released the collateral murder video (which showed Reuters journalists who were methodically killed simply for walking down the street with an armed escort in a country who's security had been shattered by a invasion that was conducted under pretense). Meanwhile PayPal continued to allow KKK organizations to receive donations through their service. We don't want to hurt Amazon or PayPal simply for the lulz, we want to do it just to see if a company can get away with it. And we want to show the world that it's possible to obsolete Amazon.com the same way Amazon obsoleted independent book stores across this nation. The world is a better place with out these types of organizations.
The TL;DR is from our web app using bitcoins (https://anonlit.herokuapp.
PayPal and financial institutions altogether really). In the future most transactions will take place using crypto-currency such as bitcoin rather than bank transfers.
Here's a link that explains how to use bitcoins as a consumer.
9.) Will it be available for E-readers?
In some respect it already is. The link http://imgur.com/a/j3thx serves to provide the internet with a digital copy, it's absolutely free of charge. You can likely view the book on android devices. It seems iOS may be blocking users from seeing the book there? Possibly a marketing scheme by Apple to help encourage eBooks sold through iTunes perhaps? Anonymous Publications has been extremely busy with more urgent priorities, but availability of the eBook will be increased as more people start demanding the book be delivered in alternative formats. It's not off the table, to eventually end our embargo against Amazon and PayPal, that is if enough people insist that they can't figure out BTCs
but still need the book. But we want to make bitcoins work. Bitcoin is a bad investment, but as a transactional currency bitcoin is a crucial tool for free express in the 21st century. We'll be pushing tutorials on how to buy the book using bitcoins in the near future and we hope that anyone reading this takes the opportunity to learn what they need to do as a consumer to participate in crypto-currency based exchanges.
10.) I know a number of libraries carry a copy. Can you tell us which ones?
The three libraries in the Ferguson area have the book in there system. There's a library in LA, one in Chicago (the Washington Herald Library), and another in NYC showing interest. We have someone in Australia connected to the Crypto Party who's working on increasing the book's availability in that area as well. Oh there's also a place in Jacksonville Florida called BurnPile Press who have been serving as a bit of a library for the book down there, giving copies to people during demonstrations and such. Public libraries can move kinda slow, Ferguson was obviously very keen about getting the books into their system quickly, but they were an exception, I think for obvious reasons. There's a lot of paperwork for some, and in other cases, just a lot of content vetting that we have to wait on. It's a lot of work getting books where the belong when you're boycotting Amazon and there partners ;)
11.) Will Anonymous be releasing any other books in the future?
That's a bit uncertain. Ideally more people will find out about Anonymous Publications, people will support our antics with monetary donations, and others as well as myself will be releasing more titles with Anonymous Publications. It's a bit unclear as to how things will play out.
12.) As many aware readers may know, Anonymous has really stepped up for an array of causes. Some have been highly publicized and others have gone virtually unnoticed. Is this a way for Anonymous to reach a more diverse audience? Do you hope for people to seek out a movement after reading this book?
Audience diversity was originally an important goal. When we first started out with this project, independent book stores were a little more abundant. It would have been nice to get this book into physical stores and have it available for perusing all across the nation. As it turned out, by the time we launched, most of the receptive independent book stores we made contact with across the nation went out of business. There are a few book stores with a copy sitting on their shelf, but some are not eager to advertise there affiliations with Anonymous on the internet for various reasons, so we have to keep our book store list confidential. As for the chains, those Barnes & Noble, Book Off USA, Books-A-Million outlets... they aren't very welcoming to publishers not already in either of the two primary book distribution catalogs in the US, usually Baker & Taylor. So, as far as reaching new audiences is
concerned, this new media channel may serve us in that respect, but we'll need to get creative in the future if we're going to reach more minds in this effort. Most of the owners of the title so far are people who already have strong affiliations with Anonymous.
We don't want people to seek out a *specific* movement, at least that's not why we came to exist. We're trying to get people to latch on to the idea that they have a right and obligation to participate in the way in which they're governed. We want people in Egypt to see this book and self govern just as much as we want people in the US to. They called it the Arab Spring when the middle east did it. Was it a movement? Sure, for 40 years, Egyptians had been living under insane emergency laws that served the few at the expense of the many, so maybe Egyptians decided they wanted to self govern and pushed back. You could call that a movement. Over here, we did it, they called ours Occupy Wall Street. We wanted the same thing, to self govern, for the laws to serve the public, the majority, rather than the minority at everyone else's expense. Is self governance a movement? If so then Anonymous would like you to seek that movement out and join us. Perhaps the line between 'movement' and 'universal human right' is a blurry one also.